FORT CAMPBELL, Ky., April 12, 2012 – A 101st Airborne Division
soldier received the nation's second-highest military honor in a
ceremony today at McAuliffe Hall here.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno presents Army Sgt.
Felipe Pereira with the Distinguished Service Cross at Fort
Campbell, Ky., April 12, 2012. Pereira earned the military's
second-highest award for his actions Nov. 1, 2010, in Afghanistan.
U.S. Army photo by Sam Shore
Army Sgt. Felipe Pereira is the first “Screaming Eagle”
to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross since the
Vietnam War. Pereira is a squad leader assigned to Company
A, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment. He earned the
recognition for what the official citation calls
“distinguished service and heroism” during a firefight in
Kandahar, Afghanistan, Nov. 1, 2010.
“It's a great
honor to represent the division,” Pereira said. “It's real
nice to be able to represent the 101st and show ... the
caliber of soldiers that we actually have here.”
28-year-old Brazilian immigrant was joined by his wife,
mother and father, as well as other family members during
the presentation from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T.
Odierno at division headquarters.
“I've always had
this kind of fighting thing in me,” Pereira said, explaining
why he joined the Army. “I wanted to see combat, I really
Odierno recognized Pereira for his
“extraordinary actions in the face of adversity.”
are all here because your actions distinguish you as a
hero,” Odierno said to Pereira. “The reality is there are
people alive today because of those actions.
defining moment,” the general added, “Sergeant Pereira's
actions will be forever etched in our nation's history. ...
His actions were in keeping with the highest ideals of the
warrior ethos. Ignoring his own safety, forgetting his own
pain, he defied the blizzard of gunfire blazing through the
smoke, the bullets and the chaos to help his fellow soldiers
in their time of need.”
Pereira joined the Army in
March 2009 and deployed to Afghanistan's Zhari district in
May 2010. Six months later, a roadside bomb detonated during
a dismounted patrol, killing two soldiers in Pereira's
squad. According to the citation, Pereira suffered shrapnel
wounds, and his lung began to collapse.
ambush from the enemy under way, “with little regard for his
own safety or care” Pereira drove an all-terrain vehicle
into enemy fire to help evacuate wounded soldiers. After
moving the first set of casualties, Pereira went back into
the line of fire once more to help others.
who held the rank of specialist at the time, “is credited
with saving the lives of two of his fellow soldiers, while
risking his own [on] multiple occasions. Only after all of
the wounded soldiers had been evacuated and were receiving
medical care did he accept treatment himself,” according to
“Everything kind of started like just a
regular patrol ... until pretty much the very end of it, when
everything just went haywire,” Pereira recalled.
while being recognized for his heroic efforts during his
first deployment, Pereira said he feels more than ever that
he was only doing what he signed up to do.
honest with you, it just felt like a normal day – doing my
job,” he said. “Obviously, yes, it was a hectic situation,
it was extreme situation and everything, but it doesn't feel
any different than something we should have done. I keep
saying had I not done it, somebody else probably would have,
and the job would have gotten done the same way.”
anyone was a hero that day, Pereira said, the true honor
goes to the two soldiers – Pfc. Andrew N. Meari and Spc.
Jonathan M. Curtis – who lost their lives.
time I have the opportunity, I always say, ‘Remember those
that gave the ultimate sacrifice,'” he said. “I still get to
come back and enjoy barbecues with my family and ... their
love and everything. Those guys, they really gave it all.
Those are truly the heroes. Just remember those guys. I
think even on a happy occasion like this, I think we need to
celebrate their life and their sacrifice.”
experiences not only serve as an example to his fellow
soldiers, but also provide guidance for even the small
battles of everyday life.
“If you actually stop and
think, that's when you start panicking because you don't
know what to do,” he said. “The key is to keep moving, and
hope the decisions you're making are the best decisions that
can be made.”
Pereira is the 165th 101st Airborne
Division soldier to receive the Distinguished Service Cross.
By Megan Locke Simpson, Fort Campbell Courier
American Forces Press Service
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